Surging offense supplies 8 more runs on 12 hits

CRESTWOOD, Ill– Stalemated at five in the ninth, the Florence Freedom, presented by Titan Mechanical Solutions, rallied to three runs on the way to an, 8-5, victory over the Windy City Thunderbolts on Friday night at Ozinga Field.

Ryan Mordecai (4-2) inherited the bases loaded and two outs when the right-hander took over on the mound for the Freedom (57-38) in the bottom of the eighth, but coaxed Windy City (41-54) clean-up hitter, Tyler Alamo into a fly-out to left to setup the late flourish offensively in a, 5-5, game.

Facing hard-throwing righty, Colby Blueburg (4-2) in the top of the ninth, Austin Wobrock sparked the surge with a lead-off double, his twenty-third of the season. Kevin Whatley bunted the runner to third next, but reached himself as Zach Taylor attempted to gun Wobrock at third to no avail. After Whatley stole second base to put two men in scoring position, Luis Pintor broke the tie with a sacrifice-fly to left field that propelled Florence in front, 6-5. Connor Crane and Isaac Benard both added RBI-singles later in the frame, the visitors taking the, 8-5, advantage they would not relinquish.

Mordecai faced the minimum in the last of the ninth, fanning one en route to his fourth win in relief this season. Finishing the night with 12 hits in total, Florence now has 48 knocks in their last four game, scoring a total of 32 runs.

The Freedom took the first lead of the game, 1-0, facing Bolts starter, Kenny Mathews in the top of the first. Pintor started the game with a single, Brandon Pugh bunting the runner to second before reaching as Mathews fumbled the exchange ahead of his throw to first base. After Pintor stole third, Crane popped a sacrifice-fly in foul-ground on the first base side, Pintor diving across home to give Florence the one-run lead.

Windy City responded with three runs off Freedom lefty, Mike Castellani in the second, the home team taking their first advantage, 3-1. Zach Rheams and Taisei Fukuhara plated the first pair of runners with a double and single, respectively and Taylor added one more when Kevin Whatley made an error at short on a potential inning-ending double-play ball.

Florence would even the score at three in the top of the sixth, scoring their last pair of runs off Mathew in the contest. Pintor made it a one-run game when he followed a Whatley triple with an RBI-single, and scored to stalemate the affair two-batters later, thanks to a run-scoring single to left from Caleb Lopes.

Castellani would step aside after five complete innings, handing the ball to southpaw reliever, Hayden Wheeler to start the bottom of the sixth. The starter took a no-decision, surrendering three earned runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Answering to reclaim a two-run advantage in the frame, Rheams scampered across home on a passed ball, and Michael Majeta knocked a sacrifice-fly off Wheeler as the score became, 5-3, Thunderbolts.

Mathews would not come back out for the seventh, finishing his night having logged a quality-start. The lefty went six three-run innings, allowing three hits and adding nine strikeouts. Tyler Thornton would replace the starter, yielding an earned run in the right-hander’s lone inning of work in relief.

Trevor Craport greeted Thornton with a lead-off double, and stole third base ahead of scoring on a Wobrock bounce-out to second as the margin was trimmed to one at, 5-4. The Freedom would go on to steal seven bases in the collision, upping their league-leading total to 154 on the season. Facing right-hander, Blake Hickman in the eighth, Crane followed a Lopes hit-by-pitch with his second triple of the game, Florence again drawing even at, 5-5, on Crane’s club-leading fifty-ninth RBI of the campaign.

These two teams will collide in their regular-season finale on Saturday at Ozinga Field, Florence trying to end their season on a six-game roll. The visitors will send knuckle-ball right-hander, Chris Amend to the hill opposite a TBD Thunderbolts starter, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CDT in Crestwood, Ill.

The Florence Freedom are members of the Independent Frontier League and play all home games at UC Health Stadium located at 7950 Freedom Way in Florence, KY. The Freedom can be found online at florencefreedom.com, or by phone at (859) 594-4487.

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